“Watership Down” (Post 2/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/3

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[18]

“Who wants to hear about brave deeds when he’s ashamed of his own, and who likes an open, honest tale from someone he’s deceiving?”

(p.105)

[19] Reference:

“I tell you, every single thing that’s happened fits like a bee in a foxglove.”

(p.105)

Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials commonly called foxglove. The scientific name means “finger-like.” The flowers are produced on a tall spite, are tubular, and vary in color with species.

[20] Reference:

The light, full and smooth, lay like a gold rind over the turf, the furze and yew bushes, the few wind-stunted thorn trees.

(p.109)

Ulex (commonly known as gorse, furze or whin) is a genus of flowering plants. It has green stems and very small leaves and is adapted to dry growing conditions.

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“Watership Down” (Post 1/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 2/3

Post 3/3


Richard Adams’ much-loved first novel, published in 1972. I read a first American edition hardcover from the library. 

4 out of 5 stars. 

The Plot:

A group of rabbits (including intelligent Hazel, brave Bigwig and seer Fiver) leave their warren in rural England when Fiver warns of impending doom. The rabbits search for a new, safe home and more rabbits to join their group.

I tried to read this as a kid and found the length too daunting. I tried to read it as a young adult and dismissed it as a kid’s book. My thirties was apparently the right time.

I’m not the first to say Watership Down is an incredible adventure tale, but maybe I’ll raise some eyebrows claiming that it has more heart, excitement and satisfying mythology than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The scope of this world, though contained to a relatively small physical area is incredible. And Adams pulls it off with no visible strain, effortlessly weaving the adventures of the rabbits with their fables. I can’t believe this was the work of a first-time author. It’s one of those stories that feels like it was given to the author in a complete piece.

 

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“Danse Macabre”

danse-macabre

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Stephen King’s non-fiction look at horror from the 1950s to 1980s, published in 1981. I read my much-loved and worn 1983 Berkley paperback.

5 out of 5 stars.

A four-hundred-page bull session with Stephen King about horror in film, television, radio and literature with some dashes of autobiography.

I read Danse Macabre every couple of years and I can thank it for pointing me in life-altering directions: Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury when I was thirteen, Richard Matheson at sixteen, Ira Levin at twenty, Harlan Ellison at twenty-five, Jack Finney at twenty-eight…

I’m going to cover a handful of recommended titles from this book over the next few months. We’ll see what sticks for me at thirty-one.


 

[1]

All short histories are great histories.

(p.10)

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“Salem’s Lot” (Post 3/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/3

Post 2/3


 

[60] Most people who encounter Salem’s Lot (book or film) never forget this image:

Something had awakened him.

He lay still in the ticking dark, looking at the ceiling.

A noise. Some noise. But the house was silent.

There it was again. Scratching.

Mark Petrie turned over in bed and looked through the window and Danny Glick was staring in at him through the glass, his skin grave-pale, his eyes reddish and feral.

(p.444)

[61] Kingism:

Think of something. Quick! Quick!

“The rain,” he whispered hoarsely. “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. In vain he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.”

(p.445)

In It, stutterer Bill Denbrough uses this tongue-twister as a tool, first as speech therapy, then as a ward against evil.

In Danse Macabre, King discusses Curt Siodmak’s novel Donovan’s Brain, and we see when this verse may have waded into King’s writing pool:

At the end of the book, the scientist attacks the tank with an ax, resisting the endless undertow of Donovan’s will by reciting a simple yet haunting mnemonic phrase – He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.

(DM; p.19)

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“Salem’s Lot” (Post 2/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 1/3

Post 3/3


 

[22]

He was a solitary man, but solitude had in no way twisted him.

(p.264)

[23]

“So what’s new in town?” Floyd asked, knowing the answer already. Nothing new, not really. Someone might have showed up drunk at the high school, but he couldn’t think of anything else.

“Well, somebody killed your uncle’s dog. That’s new.”

Floyd paused with his glass halfway to his mouth.

(p.268)

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“Salem’s Lot” (Post 1/3)

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[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

Post 2/3

Post 3/3


 

Stephen King’s second-published novel, released in 1975. I read a hardcover collection of King’s first three books, which means the page numbers (191 – 639) will look very odd if you’re trying to follow along with a different edition.

3 out of 5 stars.

The Plot:

Writer Ben Mears returns to Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, a town he spent several years in as a child. Trying to work through demons in his past, he finds hope for the future in new friendships and an emerging romance with a local woman. But his arrival coincides with a new demon – a vampire – who terrorizes the town and people Mears loves.

King has a couple of standard novel-motifs and this is his huge cast, small town New England, supernatural-shit-hitting-the-fan extravaganza in the style of Needful Things (a near-flawless Salem’s Lot 2.0), Under the Dome and The Regulators. Salem’s Lot is the weakest of that group; too long to be the journey of a single character (which is what it’s ultimately reduced to) and too short to justify its huge cast. It should have been cut down to focus more on Ben Mears or beefed up to give the scope and mythology of It or The Stand.

Nit-picking aside, this is an entertaining read with creepy scenes and nods to classics (Dracula, of course, but also a good dose of Shirley Jackson). You could do much worse if you’re looking to spend some time in King Country.


 

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